Analyst Weighs in on New Online Poker Bill, Expresses Optimism

By: Abby Johnson - July 8, 2011

A new Internet gaming bill was recently introduced to the U.S. House that focuses specifically on poker. The Internet Gambling Prohibition, Poker Consumer Protection, and Strengthening UIGEA Act of 2011, or H.R.2366, would regulate online poker and would create an interstate licensing program for Internet poker websites.

States, however, would still be able to “opt out if they don’t want to participate,” according to the press release. It also stated, “The lawmakers believe this is an issue of personal freedom and that the government shouldn’t stop people from playing a game of skill.”

Do you agree with the lawmakers and believe that this bill is based on “personal freedom”? We’d love to know.

It’s no secret that the online poker industry has had a troubled past, which was evidenced by the recent “Black Friday” event when the FBI shut down three popular online poker sites for alleged bank fraud. Because of this event and other controversies around online poker, Representative Barton (R-TX) introduced the bill in hopes of providing clarity to the industry.

According to Eli Lehrer, the Vice President of The Heartland Institute, the proposed bill makes “common sense.” He said, “It contains some common sense protections against people being defrauded, which right now in the current netherworld of online gambling is all too common and way to easy.”

On the topic of the taxes the bill would impose, Lehrer pointed out, “At a time when we need more revenue and there’s an enormous resistance to raising taxes of any sort, it cannot be bad idea.”

Incidentally, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act was also introduced recently, which focuses on all Internet gambling and not just poker. Lehrer believes that it is actually a “better idea” because it has more freedom and creates more revenue. It does not, however, have bipartisan support, which is not the case with Barton’s bill.

Lehrer said that bipartisan support is especially noteworthy given the current divisions in Congress.

“Anything significant that gets bipartisan support is a big deal,” he added.

As for the passing of this bill, Lehrer told us the chances are “possible” but were “by no means guaranteed.”

In, what may be a blow against the bill, the American Gaming Association is not in support of the bill. It is reportedly working on its own version of legislation for online poker.

Would you like to see this bill pass?

Abby Johnson

About the Author

Abby JohnsonAbby Johnson is a reporter for WebProNews. Google: Google+

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  • Barry

    I’d definitely love to see this bill passed quickly. This is about our freedom, but also about government greed in my opinion. I played on Pokerstars along with alot of other Americans. However, it appears that the government realized they weren’t getting a slice of the pie (nor were the land-based casinos in the US). So, the government preempted player’s rights to play poker by shutting down the “competition”. With Pokerstars and other big names out of the way, players would have to play on US sites. So the government is setting up a bill where they get their cut, and the casino’s can get their cut by opening up their version of online poker. And the players will be happy that they get to play and make money (alot of players lost their incomes and livelihood during these months).

    I’ll be happy too, also, to a lesser degree. I retired from the military to defend people’s freedoms, yet to have the government just “decide” to take away my freedom to play this game in my own home is an affront to the years I put in the military.

    But I’ll take what I can get once they pass the bill (and I know it will pass because election time is around the corner and poker players are voters). I’ll play on the U.S. sites, and will play on Pokerstars when they are allowed again into the U.S. market (after whatever probationary period they have to go through).

  • Mark Huber

    Uh, hell yes I want to see this bill passed. I love to play poker online. I used to have a problem playing the slots too much and online poker kept me out of the casino. I’m not sure many people notice this, but online poker actually can help many problem gamblers. Sounds weird, but true. Online poker taught me bankroll management (playing within my means), patience, and hard work. I’m not much more than a break-even player, or a slight winner, and I learned a lot to just become that.

  • duane

    Land of the free? The rest of the planet is playing online poker! While we wonder if our law makers can stop back stabbing each other long enough to make a decision on something that should have never been against the law in the first place.

  • Mike


    Thank you for bringing this topic to the forefront. I was very impressed with your knowledge of the topic. However, I did notice some misinformation that was provided by your guest.

    He referred to poker as a “casino game.” While perhaps literally correct, as the game is played in some casinos, the use of that term is misleading. Poker is a game played against other players and not against the casino like other “casino games” such as blackjack. The key here is that “casino games” have negative expectations for the player. That is not true for all players in poker.

    Later, he stated that the UIGEA “made online poker largely illegal in almost the entire country.” This is a common misconception and a falsehood. The UIGEA is an enforcement act and did not criminalize the act of playing poker. Its primary function dealt with the processing of financial transactions related to online gaming.

    In reference to Black Friday your guest stated the events of that day, “shut down nearly all the online poker sites that served Americans.” Though the biggest US facing poker sites decided to stop serving Americans they were:
    a)not “shut down” as they continued to serve the rest of their non-US customer base
    b)only 3 networks were initially impacted and though they were the 3 biggest, they represented less than half of the networks available to Americans.

    For more in depth information on Black Friday, the Barton bill and other online poker news, please visit our web site at

  • John Y

    I’m “all-in” favor of the online poker legislation.

    Poker is more than just a personal freedom issue; it is a legitimate sport. Other sports, such as golf or Nascar, require entrants to pay an entry fee, and compete for an array of prizes, including cash. Same as poker, except that poker is more of a cerebral sport than a physical one. Many people enjoy poker for the entertainment value. It’s like spending a few bucks at the movies. I enjoy playing online, where I’m not encouraged to buy drinks, and there’s no seedy environment nearby which is all too common with the brick and mortar

    Whatever a person’s reason for playing, whether entertainment or profession, online poker would generate economic activity translating into tax revenues for government. Considering we live in an era of mountainous debt and deficits, it is time to regulate and tax it.

  • Masked Writer

    It is so sad to see our out-of-control government slowly regulate more and more of the Internet. Where in our great US Constitution does it give the Government the right to tax and regulate everything? I don’t see anything wrong with a friendly game of online poker, but government megalomaniacs feel the need to control everything. We live in a country where you can use your credit card to buy porn, but not use it to play a friendly online poker game. It’s so sad..

  • bea

    legislators knows better, i think. better see if it works well.

  • Dave

    Definitely agree that American’s should have the right to play poker. Aren’t we supposed to be the land of the free? Playing poker doesn’t hurt anyone. I don’t want to hear the “think of the children!!!” argument. Right now we have unregulated sites that self enforce age restrictions. The children are not protected. Passing legislation to regulate the industry IS the way to protect children.

  • CasinoWinWizard

    Yes I would like the freedom to play poker on line. Having said that I also want guarantees of an honest deal, secure that I’m playing against real players and not bots. I want the freedom to deposit easily, security that my funds are maintained in good order, and I can withdraw money from my poker account 24/7 without the risk of going to jail. If it requires federal regs to accomplish it, even with the possibility I may need to pay taxes on my wins, then so be it. Just get it done!

  • Flick

    It is about time something like this came into Congress. UIGEA was a terrible law. I thought this country was supposed to be “free”. I applaud Rep. Barton bringing more freedoms back to this country.